City officials presented a plan June 17 to New Braunfels City Council to invest $3 million in infrastructure and incentives to attract Top Golf, an indoor virtual golf gaming venue.

City officials consider Top Golf a top draw for renewed investment in the revitalization of the Creekside area.

The details

If approved by City Council and the Comal County Commissioners Court, $1.5 million in funding would go toward funding public infrastructure improvements in Creekside. That funding would come from each authority’s tax increment reinvestment zone for Creekside—the city’s property tax TIRZ, Comal County’s property tax TIRZ and the New Braunfels Economic Development Corporation’s sales tax TIRZ.

“We feel confident in telling you that what we are proposing, and what was requested is certainly in line with what other communities have partnered with Top Golf to bring that venue to their communities as well,” Assistant City Manager Jared Werner said. “The Creekside TIRZ represents over 10% of all sales taxes in New Braunfels, so its continued economic success is very critical to our organization and our community.”

The other $1.5 million is a direct incentive that would be paid in six $250,000 increments annually, so long as Top Golf maintains a taxable value of $16 million and a minimum of $5 million in taxable sales, Werner said. The city expects to recoup that $3 million within 10 years based on those figures.

“We feel strongly that the project is catalytic in nature, that it really kicks off a number of revitalization efforts that have been underway for quite some time,” Werner said, including a planned expansion of the EVO entertainment center, an organic grocer, a hotel, more residential areas and more.

A number of roadway and pedestrian redevelopment improvements and additional public green spaces are part of the revitalization effort.

Dig deeper

City officials also pointed to the regional draw a Top Golf would have for the Creekside area beyond New Braunfels residents.

“Shopping retail has changed, and trying to find ways to stay ahead and enhance customer and consumer experiences is obviously in the developer's interest but also in the city’s, given such a large share of tax revenue does come out of Creekside,” said Jeff Jewell, director of economic and community development for the city.

Jewell said Creekside draws about 800,000 visitors annually who spend about $500 on average.

New Braunfels resident Wayne Rudolf cautioned that providing the incentive would open a “Pandora’s box” of other businesses asking for tax incentives before developing.

“This developer does not need a $1.5 million incentive. His incentive is in the $22 million that he is putting into this project. A man is not putting in $22 million in a project that's going to fail,” Rudolph said.

Next steps

Another public hearing and first reading of the ordinance for the tax incentive will be held before City Council on June 24, and final approval is scheduled for July 8, should it pass the first time. Comal County Commissioners Court will consider their portion tentatively on July 18.